Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish believes Joey Barton signing for Rangers will have a big effect on Scottish football and put Celtic in a position where they will have to react, Herald Scotland report.
The Gers are set to renew their league rivalry with Celtic next season after claiming promotion back to the Scottish Premiership via winning the Scottish Championship this year.
Mark Warburton is already planning on ending the Hoops reign at the top with some key additions this summer, and of those could come in the form of renowned midfielder Joey Barton.
The controversial figure has just helped Burnley to promotion to the Premier League, yet his future could be at Ibrox after holding talks with the Glasgow club over a potential move north of the border.
McLeish feels there isn’t much to choose between Celtic and Rangers at present after witnessing the Scottish Cup semi-final encounter and suggests a Rangers-Barton deal must prompt Celtic to react.
“Of course it’s a statement of intent. Rangers are not coming back to consolidate. They are coming back to try to beat Celtic and win the league. That’s where you are judged,” McLeish told Herald Scotland.
“People feel Celtic are ahead of Rangers in terms of quality, but I don’t think there’s a big difference at all. I think before the cup game the gap was pretty close and if Rangers are bringing in the likes of Joey, then Celtic are going to have to react. That’s going to make it more exciting for everybody.”
Barton joining Rangers is certainly a signal of intent and will show how ambitious the Ibrox club are of ending Celtic’s reign as Scotland’s number one club.
The Bhoys have won the last five Scottish Premiership titles in the absence of their rivals, yet they know the real challenge is back and they must improve themselves to stay at the top of the pile.